The mystery of the anonymous British street artist known as Banksy is one that captivates the art world, but he is probably not going to unmask himself anytime soon. It would appear, however, that way back in 1995, he allowed Channel 4 to interview him on camera for a show called Shadow People.
The video, which recently resurfaced online, is just under four minutes long, and includes footage of a man who is supposedly Banksy creating unsanctioned art on the streets under the cover of darkness. “The nighttime brings a different energy to the city,” he says. “I love it when the city’s quiet. When you’re the only person out in the city, you feel like you can get away with murder.”
The video also shows the artist’s real compulsion to bring his work to the streets. “Every time I see a wall I haven’t painted, I get a nagging feeling about it,” he says. He is seen drawing and cutting stencils, testing out spray paint, and creating a new artwork.
The footage includes numerous examples of the artist’s work, including the Flower Bomber, which has since become one of the British artist’s most iconic images.
Though the interviewee’s face is uncovered, the nighttime footage is blurry and difficult to make out. For what it’s worth, the man captured on camera appears to bear a passing resemblance to Robin Gunningham, the most likely candidate for Banksy’s true identity. Known photos of Gunningham, for instance, show him wearing thin-rimmed glasses, just like the man featured in the video.
“I’ve decided I don’t ever want to do a gallery show,” the video’s subject stated, noting that he doesn’t feel the need to legitimatize his work through such established outlets. “Saatchi came to me with a lot of money and I told him to fuck off.” He added, “It’s not about the money; I don’t paint for anybody else—I don’t paint for critics.”
Despite his protests, two decades later, Banksy is a household name. Gallery owners have taken matters into their own hands, pulling his work off the streets to see to the highest bidder, and Banksy’s politically-charged project Dismaland was among the world’s hottest tickets in 2015.
The video depicts a simpler time for the artist. “If I’m painting and the cops turn up,” the man in the video notes, he prefers “to make out like I’m pissed, and I’m puking out on the corner” than to run. “There’s a lot of fun to be had in painting at night and painting illegally,” he added.
If nothing else, the footage offers a fascinating possible glimpse into the psyche of the famed street artist. “There’s that beautiful time of when you get home after you’ve finished, and you’ve done it and you’ve fucked them…and you’ve gotten away with what you want to do,” the supposed Banksy effused. “It’s a great feeling. I guess that’s why I do it.”
See the video:
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